Northern Ireland news

Masked attackers use dissident guns to target west Belfast family

A gunman dressed in Santa suit fires 12 shots at the Richmond home in Dermott Hill Parade in west Belfast.

METAL shutters have been placed on the windows and doors of a west Belfast house, attacked three times in less than a fortnight, in an attempt to secure it from further damage.

The Dermott Hill home of George Richmond was attacked by a gunman dressed in a Santa suit who fired up to 12 shots at the property in December.

On New Year's Eve men armed with sledgehammers smashed every window in the family home.

Two days later the house was gutted in an arson attack. The blaze resulted in neighbours having to be evacuated for their own safety.

The Irish News understands that the attacks are being carried out by a small group of men, a number of who were previously linked to the attack on the home of senior Sinn Féin members Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey.

Despite this Sinn Féin was slow to condemn the attacks on the Richmond family, who have now left the area permanently.

While the family have been targeted since September last year, it was Thursday of this week before the party made a statement.

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said: "Whatever grievances people have with the Richmond family, there are many ways to deal with it than resorting to bringing weapons on to the street and burning people's homes."

On Thursday, the Richmond's house was boarded with metal security shutters, following advice from the PSNI, to protect it from further attack.

The family has asked why there have still been no arrests, despite three attacks in less than a fortnight, as well as a separate gun attack on Mr Richmond's daughter's apartment in nearby Upper Springfield.

Read more: CCTV capturing 'Santa' gun attack raises questions about lack of arrests

Mr Richmond said: "Some of those I believe are responsible live close by, they would have seen me boarding up the house and leaving, they couldn't even let us leave in peace to move out.

"The police knew we're under threat and our property was at risk and yet we've had a gun, sledgehammer and arson attack within less than two weeks and not a single arrest".

The Irish News understands that two of the main attackers come from the area with the guns used in the attack provided by a man from the Turf Lodge area, who was previously linked to a firework attack on the west Belfast home of the former Sinn Féin president in July last year.

A gunman dressed in a Santa suit fires shots at the Richmond home on January 3:

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